I live on the border of Prospect Heights and Crown Heights and the border is a little bit, ok it’s really fuzzy. When I tell people where I live I immediately feel the need to explain that the neighborhood bears no resemblance to its race riot past, and has emerged as an exciting and colorful neighborhood deep in the throes of development and (I hate this word) gentrification. When I first came to the neighborhood I was a little bit skeptical but soon found that looks can be deceiving, and quickly fell in love with my new home.
In recent months we’ve seen considerable press about our exciting new restaurants, bars, and events popping up all over the place. I am in love with the food at Bar Corvo, enjoy the creative cocktails at Bearded Lady, and look forward to my white flat coffee at Glass Shop every weekend. But even with the new shops popping up, I love that my neighborhood has held tight to its culture and the restaurants/shops that have resided here for decades before me.
Walk through my neighborhood and see a variety or residents ranging from bearded Hasidim to vividly dressed Afro-Caribbean women to hipsters and the stroller set. The neighborhood is an ethnic and social mélange where people from all walks of life reside together. Being a girl from Kansas this is exactly what I thought my life in New York would be like, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.
Crown Heights varied population includes a large amount of Caribbean immigrants and the take-out joints and restaurants in the neighborhood reflect that. Before moving here I was very unfamiliar with Caribbean cuisine. The names of certain dishes freaked me out… what is callaloo and escovitch fish!? I realized that as a “foodie” I couldn’t bow down to the resistance I had with food I had never heard of. So one day I walked down Washington Avenue and saw a group of men eating outside of 3D’s Jamaican Bakery. I confirmed with them that this place was the real deal and walked in to check it out. That was three months ago and now I go to 3D’s almost once a week 😉
A hole in the wall takeout joint, 3D’s is a block away from my house. It has no tables, and is the size of a large closet. They have no menu to take with you, just a sign above the counter with staple items and weekly specials but the specials never change. I’ve gone out of my comfort zone many times here asking the man behind the counter what he recommends for the day. In the dozen or so times I’ve gotten a bite to eat here, he has rarely disappointed except for a Jamaican patty that I want to forget I ever ate. If you go for one thing, and one thing only then make sure you order their jerk chicken.
It doesn’t matter if it’s for lunch or dinner, the jerk chicken comes as a platter with rice and beans, steamed cabbage, and a few baked plantains. You can get your chicken slathered with a couple different sauces (mostly all spicy) but I’m a wuss and so I go with their BBQ sauce that still packs a punch. The chicken is fantastic – I mean the meat literally drops off the bone as you pick it up! The skin is crispy with a mild spice mix of citrus, garlic and allspice. I can barely eat the whole thing it’s so big and the difference between the lunch (small) and dinner (large) portions are barely noticeable (maybe a chicken piece or tablespoon of rice?). With a homemade juice of theirs (the fruit punch is my favorite) my meal comes out to only $9!
If you find yourself in the neighborhood (maybe you are at The Brooklyn Museum or Prospect Park?) or live here then make a bee-line for 3D’s. It’s no fuss, no frills, and transports you straight to the islands. My neighborhood may be changing by the minute but here’s hoping that places like 3D’s, Island’s and Kelso’s survive the transition… it would be a shame to lose the traditional food culture of my neighborhood.
3D’s Place Jamaican Bakery
771 Washington Avenue (between St Johns and Sterling Places)